As the electric vehicle industry optimistically and consistently pushes toward widespread adoption, there are a number of factors that affect how quickly electric cars will become the prevailing choice for consumers. Aspects ranging from consumer knowledge to gas prices to charging infrastructure and more all affect sales. Read on to learn what widespread adoption will look like as well as 10 factors that affect the speed of EV adoption.
What Exactly Does Widespread EV Adoption Mean?
Simply put, EV adoption refers to electric cars becoming more and more prevalent in the automotive industry. “Widespread adoption” will occur when EVs are considered the most prominent vehicle choice for consumers. While many experts believe that EVs outselling traditional gas-powered vehicles is inevitable, the rate at which EVs become industry standard will vary greatly depending on the factors below. While President Biden has set a goal for half of all vehicles purchased to be electric by 2030, currently only 1% of vehicles on the road are electric.
The following four factors all relate to consumers and how they drive the EV industry toward widespread adoption. These are the aspects of the trade that the customer cares most about. While these factors can be difficult to control, public knowledge and perception regarding EVs ultimately play a huge role in determining how quickly adoption occurs.
1.) Public Awareness About EVs
While EVs are nothing new, the industry as compared to gas-powered vehicles still lacks a well-informed and broadly educated public awareness. This factor relates to all the others, because as long as the consumer lacks information or receives misinformation, it will remain difficult to encourage EV adoption. The assumption is that awareness will grow with popularity, but it is crucial that the EV industry takes steps to build a well-informed consumer base.
Time and time again EV range crops up as the dominating consideration that drivers make before choosing an electric car. And while EV engineers are consistently improving batteries and the ability to travel farther on a charge, until EV range consistently matches or outperforms internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, some consumers will hesitate to switch.
3.) Charging Speed
The speed at which a driver can charge up their vehicle is another topic brought up often by hesitant adopters. While both the vehicle and the charging station play a role, experts are optimistic that the time it takes to charge will continue to push toward fueling up an ICE vehicle. Of course early adopters are okay with charging overnight or waiting a little longer for a fast-charge on a trip, but for full-scale adoption, either public perception of charge speed or actual time to charge will have to continue to change.
4.) Cost and Cost Comparison
At the end of the day, every buyer cares about the cost of their new vehicle. A recent study showed 67% of would-be purchasers claim cost is a primary concern. This is one of those aspects of EV adoption that has additional, external factors playing a role. While the cost of producing EVs is expected to drop, until manufacturers believe EVs will sell at comparable rates to ICE vehicles, the upfront cost will likely remain higher. And though drivers are urged to remember that operating costs should be lower (no gas, less maintenance), even with incentives EVs can be out of some consumers’ price range.
These factors are considerations the EV industry makes when developing and producing vehicles. Without a large number of available vehicles, consumers are limited to what is out there. Adoption will correspond with the rate of production.
Government incentives for automakers are paramount in pushing for full-scale EV adoption. Just as important as creating incentives, though, is renewing/extending them. If incentives dwindle and consumers lose interest for other reasons, automakers may be quick to cut ties with developing EVs. While this is not the expectation, continued government support can help assuage any concern that the EV industry will decline.
6.) Charging Infrastructure
Paired with the incentives manufacturers receive to produce EVs come the incentives that businesses and other locations receive to develop charging stations. As charging stations become more prevalent, the hope is that would-be EV drivers cease to worry where they will top up their vehicle. Companies like EV Connect continue to drive the industry forward with charging solutions.
Considering the ambitious clean-energy goals the world wants to set, EV adoption seems like an inevitable fact. However, so far the industry has relied on already green-minded and well-developed areas like California. The hope is for the rest of the country to catch up.
7.) Green Energy
Early adopters of EVs have often been those located in cleaner energy areas. As the industry becomes more widespread, the expectation is that EVs will be net-positive for the environment by a wide margin. The Center for Sustainable Energy emphasizes that EVs are even more green in areas where clean energy already reigns. So as society continues to switch to renewable sources of energy, EVs should increasingly benefit the earth, which will hopefully encourage more EV consumption.
8.) Grid Development
The power grid and the role it plays in the future of EV adoption also relates to manufacturing. However, with the dawn of smart charging and a goal for cleaner energy, the development of the grid with electric car travel in mind falls under the environmental category. As we continue to imagine greener futures, updating the power infrastructure to adapt to EV charging needs is crucial.
Of course there are some factors that, try as they might, the EV industry really has no control over. These aspects will still affect EV adoption, but they are independent of EV manufacturing and sales.
9.) Gas Prices
Anyone who has driven an ICE vehicle this year would probably tell you how happy they would be to avoid heading to the gas station. Gas prices are historically temperamental, but if consumers continue to see them rise, it may increase the rate at which drivers switch to alternate fuel sources like EVs. The higher gas prices get, the less likely consumers are to worry about range or charge time due to the cost savings.
10.) Global Economy
Another factor that affects anything from gas price to manufacturing ability is the global economy. With everything from a Russian conflict to a Chinese market eager to adopt EVs, there are a slew of large-scale aspects that change the automotive landscape. The difficult part is predicting exactly how the global economy will drive EV sales.
EV Adoption Recap
What’s sometimes easy to forget is that it’s not just one of these factors independent of the rest but an intricate blend of all of them that affects EV manufacturing and sales. All of these factors must coordinate in specific ways in order to impart full-scale EV adoption. But consumers, manufacturers and sellers alike should not fret: It’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when.”
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